JOHANNESBURG – While the Lions went down to the Sharks in Durban last Saturday they will go into this weekend’s round-16 match against the Stormers at Ellis Park in confident mood.
Swys de Bruin’s men did all the playing in their 27-17 loss and dominated virtually every department.
A lack of finishing and two intercept tries by the Sharks cost the Lions dearly, but De Bruin and his coaching staff will have been pleased with the overall performance.
The Lions enjoyed 64% of the possession and bested the Sharks in the following areas: ball carries (140-67), defenders beaten (29-15), clean breaks (13-5), passes (209-79), rucks won (99-38) and missed tackles (15-29).
There would thus not have been too many areas of concern when the squad did their post-match analysis yesterday.
And, to boost their confidence further, the Lions will know they were very much on course for a win against the Stormers when the teams last met - in round two at Newlands. On that day, replacement scrumhalf Hershel Jantjies came on to score the winning try in the dying seconds to help his team to an unconvincing 19-17 win.
The Lions will also be keen to finally end their bad run against local teams this season.
Besides the loss at Newlands, De Bruin’s men have also lost to the Bulls and Sharks, twice.
They face the Bulls in their last round-robin fixture in the middle of next month, in Pretoria.
From a personnel perspective, De Bruin will welcome back hooker Malcolm Marx this week after the Springbok No2 was forced to sit out the game against the Sharks last weekend.
While his replacement Jan-Henning Campher delivered a quality outing, having Marx back will be a major boost to the side.
Unfortunately the Lions will in all likelihood again be without their eighthman and captain, Warren Whiteley.
He missed the matches against the Highlanders and Sharks with bruising on the knee, and spent Monday in hospital nursing kidney stones.
Both the Lions and Stormers have three games left to play, and they are fourth and fifth on the log respectively with 30 points each. The Lions have won seven times; the Stormers six times.
The Jaguares lead the way with 36 points, and they’re followed by the Bulls and Lions, who have 33 and 32 points respectively.@jacq_west